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Common Avian Conditions

Although many birds may have a life that is relatively uncomplicated by disease and illness, there are some who will not be as fortunate. Following is a listing of some common avian conditions and diseases with brief descriptions that will help you identify a possible problem.

Aspergillosis: A fungal infection affecting the respiratory and digestive systems, gasping, wheezing or vocalizations are symptoms of this infection. Aspergillosis is caused by inhaling mold spores found in the bird’s environment.

Pacheco’s Disease: A contagious, viral hepatitis that affects the liver, this disease is often fatal. Pacheco’s Disease is shed in oral secretions and feces, and birds without symptoms can pass this virus to other birds. Signs include anorexia, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, depression, lime green urates, convulsions and sudden death. A screening test is available.

Polyomavirus: A highly contagious virus that affects the majority of the world’s parrots. Spread via feather dust, feces, aerosols and direct contact. Symptoms include swollen abdomen, depression, loss of appetite, anorexia, weight loss, delayed crop emptying, regurgitation, diarrhea, dehydration, feather abnormalities hemorrhages under the skin, dyspnea, polyuria, ataxia, tremors, paralysis, or acute death.  A vaccine is available.

Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD): A fatal disease that is communicable to other birds. Feather loss, abnormal feather growth, lesions on the beak and a general look of ill health are common symptoms. A screening test is available.

Proventricular Dilation Disease (PDD): A contagious viral disease whose symptoms include weight loss, constant or intermittent regurgitation, depression, passing undigested seed in droppings along with a foul smell. Neurological symptoms can include seizures and weakness in the legs.

Psittacosis: A bacterial illness caused by the bacterium Chlamydophilia, it is also potentially contagious to humans. It causes respiratory distress and is passed through contact with an infected bird's droppings and secretions. Treatable if caught early.  Symptoms include diarrhea, decreased appetite, sneezing, green urine, labored breathing, sinusitis and nasal discharge.

By becoming familiar with this short list of common illnesses, you may be able to recognize the early signs of a devastating disease and improve your bird’s chances of recovery.

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